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Surprising Science

GPS Tracking “Bullets” Could Help Reduce Car Chases

Currently being tested in Iowa and Florida, Starchase fires the bullets from the grill of a pursuing police car, which then stick to the fleeing vehicle and deliver coordinates to a computer or smartphone.

What’s the Latest Development?

Police departments and state patrol agencies may soon have one more tool to help reduce the number of dangerous car chases on streets and highways: Officers in Iowa and Florida are currently testing Starchase, a compressed air gun that is installed under the grill of a police car and, at the press of a button, fires “bullets” that are actually GPS devices. Once one sticks to the fleeing vehicle, it delivers tracking coordinates to a computer or smartphone inside the police car, which will allow officers to slow down and, possibly, trick the suspect into slowing down as well.

What’s the Big Idea?

Plenty of footage exists that shows the bad outcomes that result from car chases, so anything that can help make the streets safer should be welcome. Starchase still requires a good deal of testing before its official rollout: According to one news report, a demonstration in St. Petersburg resulted in only one of the four bullets sticking to the car. The other potential problem is the price tag: The system itself costs $5,000, and each bullet costs $500.

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Read it at CNET


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